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Chattanooga, TN

Creating a community-designed gathering space

The Project

The Glass Street Gateway in Chattanooga is an intersection of multiple residential neighborhoods and a high-traffic commercial thoroughfare. Creating spaces for residents to gather has been a years-long project, and keeping schoolchildren and other residents safe has required negotiating where and how vehicle traffic functions in the area. Crutchfield Street, which borders the newly opened grocery store in an area that historically was a food desert, was identified as an ideal candidate for a slow-down.

Local community nonprofit Glass House Collective partnered with the Chattanooga Department of Transportation and Chattanooga Design Studio to create a block-long asphalt mural. Designed by local artist Kevin Bate with input from the community, the mural was installed by a team of 3 artists. Additionally, a team of 35 artists and 150 neighbors and volunteers created community spaces around the mural to help activate the intersection and encourage foot traffic. In addition to activating Crutchfield at the street level, artists worked with an additional 150 students and teachers at Hardy Elementary to expand the mural and mark safe walking paths in the area using stencils and wheat paste. The mural was unveiled at the grand opening block party for the new grocery store, along with a new community boardwalk and gathering space alongside the mural.

A Community Reclaims A Street with Art

“The work that I do doesn’t change the way that an area looks, it changes the way people feel about the area. So hopefully if people coming through see this, they’re like ‘Oh I like this, this is nice.’ It changes their whole perspective. It isn’t a street you cut through to get from Dodson to Glass.” 

Kevin Bate, Artist

Neighborhood

East Chattanooga

Number of Installations

1 street mural + multiple smaller projects

Installation Dates

April 16-25, 2021

Lead Partners

Glass House Collective

Chattanooga Department of Transportation

Chattanooga Design Studio

Lead Artist

Kevin Bate

Materials

Armorpoxy – Surface Bond Asphalt & Concrete Coating (for street painting), Behr Porch & Patio Floor Paint (for sidewalk painting), 36” delineator posts, custom bike rack, 36” planters filled with native plants, sculptural community seating integrated onto a multi-use wooden parklet structure, repurposed spool tables with umbrellas

Square Footage of Artwork

5,830 square feet

Cost

Design: $6,715

Labor: $14,490

Supplies: $30,358

Links

Website

Facebook

Instagram

Use the slider to see the transformation

Before
After

Best Practice Highlight: Community Design Workshops

In an effort to engage the community in every aspect of the design process, Glass House Collective held “Planning-By-Doing” workshops with design professionals, artists, and community members in the months leading up to the mural installation. As part of the “Planning” part, the mural artists invited residents to help shape their design options, which were ultimately put to the community for a vote. For the “Doing” portion, five teams comprised of area residents, artists, design professionals, and local stakeholders were each given a $3,000 budget to implement a small-scale intervention that would help connect neighborhood assets. These short-term, low-budget projects were used to test ideas and used as a way to gather community input for long-term changes to make the streetscape more vibrant and safer. The temporary projects included:

  • Safe routes stenciled on the sidewalk using Hardy Elementary School’s eagle mascot, encouraging students to “follow the eagles “ along the safest path home
  • A new seating area alongside the mural, including a “LOVE letters” bench, planters, shade structure, and tables on a raised boardwalk
  • A “gateway” sculpture at the entrance to Crutchfield Street filled with inspiring quotes from neighbors
  • A “Walk of Fame” near the local Youth and Family Development Center using stencils designed by local students

For inspiration and tips for the creation of art on roadways and public places, download the Bloomberg Associates Asphalt Art Guide which features successful plaza and roadway art activations around the world, as well as key steps and tips for developing such projects.

Asphalt Art Guide